The American Jobs Act

September 9th, 2011 at 1:21 am

So, how about that jobs speech?

I thought the President introduced a great jobs plan tonight–a plan that accomplished a number of important goals:

–the package is of a magnitude that could help a lot of folks get back to work.  I agree with Paul Krugman:  “if it actually became law, it would probably make a significant dent in unemployment.”

–it’s a plan that in normal times would be broadly supported by partisans on both sides of the aisle; about 60% of the $450 billion in the American Jobs Act is tax cuts, the rest is largely infrastructure and unemployment insurance, and we’ve never in our history failed to extend UI benefits with unemployment this high.

–the President pressed the urgency of the moment, the need to rise above partisanship, to stop with the self-inflicting wounds, the political circus, and get down to the people’s work, and he did it with some real fight in ‘em.

I also really liked the spirit he brought to this and I like the policy agenda, especially:

–adding another percent to the payroll tax holiday on the employee’s side, taking it up from 2% to 3%, which increases the tax break by half.  So if you earned $50K, your tax break would increase from $1K to $1.5K.  For weeks on these pages I’ve talked about how renewing the payroll cut would just keep the macroeconomic foot on the accelerator, not push it down further.  Well, this renewal/increase presses the pedal down further.

–hiring tax incentives targeted at small business and at the unemployed.

–FAST!—well, something like it: $30 billion for school renovation and repair.

–Summer jobs for low-income youth and a subsidized employment program for low-income families.

But then there is, of course, the politics.

Interestingly, R’s made more favorable sounds than you might have expected.  I was on the NewsHour tonight with conservative economist Doug Holtz-Eakin and note how at the end of the segment, he offered his opinion that the payroll tax cuts, the UI extension, and perhaps some infrastructure could pass.  Rep Cantor made some similar sounds after the speech.

The R’s are probably chastened by recent visits to their districts where one expect they got earfuls from constituents to stop screwing around and get to work on the damn economy.   And no, that won’t last and they won’t give the President nearly what he’s asking for.  I also expect some funky horse trading to start soon—watch for R’s to insist on corp tax breaks in exchange for some of the jobs measures.

But tonight we saw a spirited President present a solid, smart jobs plan to a nation in need of just that.  Obviously, a lot more to come on this, but in this town, in these days, I’d call that a very good thing.

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12 comments in reply to "The American Jobs Act"

  1. Dan Furlano says:

    He gave good speech?

    Was it about jobs? The last part of the speech was about the debt, entitlements, and government spending.

    The administration is totally clueless.

    My guess is the Republicans pass changes to SS allow the tax reduction and not much else happens. 2012 will be a repeat of 2011.

  2. Fr33d0m says:

    It didn’t give me what I wanted to hear, but it was better than expected. Will it move the numbers? Sure if he can get it passed–intact. Is it enough? Certainly not. But perhaps more importantly, did he advance the debate toward what will really fix the problem? I don’t think so, but maybe the battleground is a little bit better prepared for the fight (I still want to believe). I don’t mind co-opting the republican talking points, but when this guy talks about cutting spending, companies hampered by regulation and fixing Medicare I cringe.

    Overall though, not a bad job considering what’s piled in his way.

  3. general c. san desist says:

    …nice job on the Newshour. Doing homework & following with strong rebuttals to sand foundation gibberish clearly sways the argument. He sat there with that nervous smile thinking…oh boy, this is going nowhere fast.

    Speaking of fast…As to the speech, you win again…FAST will show some improvement. The major headline is that rope a dope as a technique for winning the round is over. Barry found his cajones & measured up to the task…good for him…better for us.

    The teabaggers are on the endangered species list & running for cover, karma is a bitch, isn’t it. Let’s see…first, they were Christian Coalition then the Religious Right then the Conservative Brotherhood & now the treasury extortion anarchist party…what next Repugnant Republican Resurrectionist. Whatever the moniker of choice to hide their evil intent, wing nut will be the loose translation.

  4. Mitchell Freedman says:

    Jared, I am still deeply disappointed in this president. He was punching with tax cuts more than anything else, with an upper cut coming with spending reductions and raising minimum ages with respect to Medicare and Social Security.

    If Obama wanted to make an impact, he should have said he was not going to run for re-election tonight, and give the Democratic Party a chance to regroup and present a true workers’ oriented message in 2012. Instead, it is ultimately more of the same policy wise.

  5. RMGHicks says:

    The question is will he sell it? I think that if Obama spends a ton of time in very vulnerable Republican congressional districts. He should have rallies on the site of bridges, roads and schools that have been targeted for rebuilding and repair. He should stand in photo-ops with teachers and other public workers that would be rehired and spell out what this means to the entire community. He needs to put UNRELENTING PRESSURE on vulnerable republicans and pick off those who are scared to lose an election. THAT’S how it gets done… If he doesn’t do that – it goes nowhere.

  6. fausto412 says:

    I didn’t even bother to watch, instead opting to wait for details to come in. so far everything I’ve seen…total weak sauce. if it doesn’t get us out of the whole we are in and address housing debt/values than it’s just abother band aid.

    even if it passed as intended which it won’t this bill wouldn’t be enough. Which means he would need to come back for more.

    Look for the GOP to take hostages and weaken the bill anyways. Just sad that this is the best this country can this about the current situation.

    Jared, take off the rose colored glasses. While the plan will help, it isn’t big enough to actually bring an end to the current decline and unlikely to be enacted in time for us to avoid a double dip.

  7. Fred Donaldson says:

    The cut in Social Security tax is meant to deplete the Trust Fund and give the GOP more power to say that the program is not funded and general revenues are used to pay for it. A decrease in the bottom income tax rate would have accomplished the same thing, and especially if it was a tax credit advantage for the earners under $200,000.

    Tax cuts are not the answer. A real trade policy with teeth might bring back millions of jobs from China, and going after overseas profits and overseas bank accounts might mean real savings to the government.

    The WH and COngress seem too intent on pleasing the elite class that owns the country, rather than representing the “lesser people” that our government used to protect and serve.

    Change is needed, but don’t expect action from Americans brought up on compromise and pretending everyone is really nice underneath their “gruff” exterior.

    We are passive whiners. Can’t mention that “real” men and women used to stand up for their rights and would die for their beliefs, because that offends the current nanny culture of don’t “say anything unless you say something nice.”

    A population that acts like nine-year-old twits will be treated as such.

  8. The Raven says:

    It’s less than 10% of what is needed, you know that, and he wants to balance it with five times as many cuts.

    Maybe it’s a beginning but, honestly, I think Obama is afflicted with the vanity of an actor, and he is more concerned with his image, and getting re-elected than with 15% unemployment.

  9. Jim says:

    Obama seeks to cut medicare and medicaid – to me that’s the bottom line. I refuse to support this phony. And where has he been the past 2 years? How gullible he must think the American people to be that all it takes is a few rousing speeches as the election approaches.

    One of the worse democratic presidents in postwar history.

  10. PeonInChief says:

    It was a fair and balanced speech, balancing some spending that assuredly won’t pass with some entitlement cuts that surely will.

  11. Ken Tschumper says:

    Jared, it really concernes me that you didn’t mention the cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that Obama is going to use to pay for his jobs proposals. It seems to me that his agenda is as much about eliminating them under the rhetoric of ” reforming” them as creating jobs. We don’t have to raise the retirement age for SS, just raise or eliminate the CAP. There is nothing that says that Medicare can only be funded by payroll taxes. What we need is an additional source of funding such as a financial transaction tax. Please comment and share your views on SS, Medicare and Medicaid and where you think Obama is going with these.